Yukon’s influenza vaccine campaign officially kicks off on October 21 with special clinics aimed at those most vulnerable to complications from influenza. These include Yukon residents with chronic medical conditions, as well as those over the age of 65, pregnant women and young children.
Vaccines will be available for the general public as of Saturday, November 2. Vaccines are free and available to everyone over the age of six months through local health centres in the communities and Whitehorse Health Centre. In addition, special immunization clinics are being held in various locations throughout Whitehorse and the communities.
Although the vaccine will be widely available for anyone interested, there is a good reason that people at higher risk are being urged to get the vaccine.
Every year we see people hospitalized with influenza and the vast majority have underlying medical conditions and have not received their flu shot. Some of these hospitalizations would have been prevented with a timely dose of influenza vaccine. Health care workers as well need to ensure they get their flu vaccine as early as possible.
Influenza is already circulating in Yukon, with more than a dozen cases of influenza officially confirmed. All the cases where typing is available indicate probable H3N2 influenza, which is one of the standard strains covered in this year’s vaccine. We know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. For every lab-confirmed case, there are many more that go undiagnosed officially.
Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley
Despite concerns in other jurisdictions, Yukon has received its full shipment of injection-style flu vaccine, however there is no flumist (flu vaccine nasal spray) this year due to a global shortage.
Individuals over the age of 65 or at risk for pneumococcal infection are encouraged to get the Pneumococcal 23 vaccine if they have not yet received it.
Influenza can cause serious illness and hospitalization among those with chronic conditions.
Last flu season 10,892 Yukoner’s were vaccinated.
Flu began circulating in Yukon in early October.
In healthy individuals, influenza symptoms are generally mild to moderate. In more serious cases, symptoms can include rapid onset of high fever, cough, sore throat, aches, pains and chills.
Rest and treatment of symptoms are usually all that is needed. People who suspect they have the flu should avoid spreading it by staying home until they feel better.
People with severe symptoms, or who get the flu on top of underlying medical conditions, should get medical advice by either calling the Yukon Health Line at 811 or consulting with their community nurse, family doctor or an emergency physician
The vaccine is safe and it takes about two weeks for the influenza vaccine to become effective, so the best time to be vaccinated in Yukon is as soon as the vaccine becomes available.
Communications, Health and Social Services